'Unbelievable' day for Neuqua's Anderson
In 2014 junior Scott Anderson wasn't consistently among the top 25 runners for another outstanding Neuqua Valley boys cross country team.
In Saturday's first major invitational of this season, Anderson only was beaten by three all-state runners who finished among the top 25 at the 2014 Class 3A meet.
"I honestly didn't even know if I was going to be in the top 20, so this is unbelievable," Anderson said.
With Anderson right behind senior standout Connor Horn, the Wildcats dominated the Hornet-Red Devil Invitational at Katherine Legge Memorial Park in Hinsdale and defeated two-time defending Class 3A champion and invite champion Hinsdale Central 33-61.
Horn was third in 15:06.7 and Anderson fourth in 16:07.0 to Hinsdale Central junior Blake Evertsen's 15:00.2 and senior Chris Brenk's 15:05.8.
The Wildcats took advantage of unlimited entries for the 3.0-mile race to place three more in the top 10 and five more in the top 20. Most varsity races allow just seven entries per team.
"As a team, we did very, very well," Anderson said. "Around the 1-mile mark, we had five or six guys (up front). Around the 2-mile mark, Connor and I were feeling good, picked up the pace and went for it."
The invite featured three of the top 10 preseason rated teams. Naperville Central, Naperville North and Palatine finished fifth, seventh and eighth.
Neuqua's Jake McEneaney was seventh and Jackson Jett and Dominic Dina were ninth and 10th. Caleb Ferguson, Patrick Wolak and Zach Kinne were 13th through 15th.
Horn, an all-state seventh, Dina and Ferguson return from last year's state lineup that was fourth, 1 point behind third-place Lyons Township for the final team trophy.
"It's so early," Neuqua coach Paul Vandersteen said. "Are we happy how things are going? Yes. (Now) the goal is to stay healthy now and let the places and times fall where they may."
At the 2014 invite Horn was sixth in 15:12.59 with Evertsen and Brenk finishing 3-4. At state, Evertsen was 12th, four seconds behind Horn, and Brenk 25th for the last all-state medal.
"(Saturday's) race didn't develop how I wanted it to but I'm happy with how the team did. Third is nothing to scoff at," Horn said.
"After the second mile I looked around and saw so many of my teammates. I thought, 'This is great.' We have very high expectations for ourselves. We're really driven after getting fourth last year."
As a sophomore, Metea Valley's Ralph Papa was encouraged by finishing 21st in 15:40.1 after simply hoping to break 16:00.
"I wasn't expecting what I got," Papa said. "Pacing for sure, not going out too fast or finishing with a lot of energy (helped). It'll definitely by a benchmark going forward as I want to improve."